Two separate mass killings left 15 people dead in one night in San Pedro Sula, northwest Honduras, both of which have been blamed by officals on rivalries between drug gangs.
In one incident on Friday night, masked gunman attacked several luxury vehicles as they exited the international airport east of San Pedro Sula. The attack was highly coordinated and carried out in approximately two minutes. The gunman, who may have been posing as police officers, forced six individuals to exit their vehicles and lie face down on the pavement, where they were shot at point blank range.
Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said that the attack was motivated by conflict between rival gangs from La Ceiba, a port city on Honduras northern coast, thought to involve two groups known as the Grillos and the Pelones. Police said that the target was one of the victims, a man called Olvin Francisco Castro Guevara, who had just arrived from Miami with his wife and two children. The wife was injured in the attack, but the children were reportedly unharmed.
The second incident, a shooting in San Pedro Sula’s Central Penitentiary, left nine inmates dead and another three wounded. Prison officials blamed the violence on a dispute between rival gangs, but some accounts said that a group of prisoners was attempting to escape, raising the possibility that prison officials were involved in the killings.
With an average of 20 homicides per day, Honduras currently has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The country’s location, along with its weak security institutions, have encouraged transnational organized crime groups to use the country as a distribution center for cocaine being smuggled from South America to the U.S.